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A glass of amber ale
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The beer brewing process
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Beer is many things to many people, but fundamentally it is a fermented beverage made from grains. Most often, beer contains four basic ingredients: malt from various grains, hops, yeast, and water. In fact, these are the only four ingredients allowed by the Reinheitsgebot. There are also occasions when one might desire to use certain adjuncts, but they are generally not required.


[edit] Main Articles

Click on one of the beer links below to begin your journey of discovery into the wonderful world of home brewing.

[edit] Commercial Brewing

{{ #if: | Main article: [[Commercial Brewing|]] | Main article: Commercial Brewing }}

Commercial brewing is used to describe everything from the small-scale microbreweries and brewpubs to the gigantic multinational brewers. However, the difference between them lies primarily in the amount of resources they have available and not in the technique. The process is as follows:

  1. Mashing
  2. Lautering
  3. Boiling
  4. Fermenting
  5. Conditioning
  6. Filtering
  7. Storing

[edit] Home Brewing

Two carboys full of fermenting beer.

People today have an unprecedented ability to brew almost anything they can imagine at home, and homebrewing has seen a surge in popularity in the last couple decades. Many Homebrewers aspire to the level of brewing achieved by the brewing industry, but in many ways homebrewers can brew better beer than the commercial breweries due to slacker cost constraints. Homebrewers can also use techniques not available to larger brewers to achieve better results. More and more people are learning to brew, and becoming rather skilled at it. In fact, many microbreweries in operation today, such as Stone and Dogfish Head, to name just a couple, were started by former or current homebrewers.

[edit] History of Home Brewing

Through its evolution, beer has taken many forms, and drawn its character from a variety of grains and adjuncts. For centuries its production was cloaked in mystery, brewed by priests, called a gift from the gods. Even yeast, before it was understood, was called "godisgood" in old English. The ancient Egyptians were proficient brewers, though the earliest known production of fermented grains was by the Sumerians as early as 4000BC. Ancient beers were quite different from modern brews, however. Sumerian beer, as reconstructed from the Hymn to Ninkasi, had a more lemonade-like flavor; it seems the Sumerians may have used sour flavor (from the action of bacteria) to balance the sweetness of the malt, rather than the bitter flavor we use today. Ancient Egyptian beer may have had a closer resemblance to beer as we know it. The Romans used hops as a summer vegetable and used it with other things to flavor the beer. Through most of the Middle Ages, beer was bittered with gruit, a mixture of herbs and/or spices which differed substantially from place to place and was often a trade secret. Widespread use of hops in beer started around the 1300s in the Low Countries, and gradually spread. By 1500 it was replacing gruit as the dominant bittering agent in England.

[edit] History of Home Brewing in the UK

The drink that we call "beer" today was originally called "ale". At first ale was made by fermenting an extract from cereals or grains. Herbs of one kind or another were used for bittering and flavoring; ground ivy and the stinging nettle were popular. Families made their own ale, though in town it was often made by professional brewers, who were very often widows (brewing being one of the few career paths open to widows). Estate workers received ale as part of their wages. As communications developed and taverns came into existence each one brewed their own ale and put a fresh bush outside to indicate that a fresh brew was available.

By the beginning of the 15th Century there was a distinction between Ale and Beer, beer being the hopped beverage introduced from Belgium. The first commercial breweries were to be seen in monasteries.

Throughout the country ale and beer was the drink of the common people, prior to the introduction of tea, coffee and cocoa and so on in the eighteenth century.

One of the earliest attempts to control home production was the Inland Revenue Act of 1880 which required a 5 shilling licence. The popularity hit an all time low in the years after the second world war. In 1963 the Chancellor removed the need for a licence and paved the way for the popularity to rise. The first real surge of home brewers came from within the ranks of the home wine makers. C.J.J. Berry helped to generate an interest in the first home wine making boom by producing the Amateur Winemaker magazine. After Dave line wrote for Amateur Winemaker he wrote The Big Book of Brewing in 1974. Over the next 20 or so years the popularity peaked with major chain stores and chemists stocking equipment and ingredients. This meant that everybody had easy availability in their locality.

Today the local homebrew shop scene is a shadow of its former self. The dominance of a few larger Mail Order firms means it's easy to order standard Items from a few main distributors. Thankfully there are a few firms that are willing and able to supply imports from the USA where the range of ingredients and equipment is vastly superior to the UK(citation needed). CAMRA, who campaigns for real ale, is doing a good job in educating the population and helping generate a new generation of home brewers.

[edit] History of Home brewing in the USA

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[edit] Colonial America

Submitted by R P Davis (bob AT reconstructinghistory DOT com)

From the earliest settlements in the New World, beer was brewed in the homes of America. Beer was considered by early Americans essential to health and well-being: thus the well-documented case of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth due to a beer shortage, not because Plymouth was a suitable location for settlement.[1]

In Europe, drinking unprocessed water could make one ill. Water was only considered safe to drink if it had been processed in some way; the process of brewing rendered water safe for drinking. Moreover, beer and ale were an essential part of everyday diet. Often referred to as 'liquid bread,' beer had protein, vitamins, carbohydrates and other nutrients often missing from the average European's diet. So it was that, even though the shores of America abounded with spring-fed, clean water, European settlers would only drink it under duress - when beer or cider were unavailable.

In English colonies, the first buildings were communal, and one of the first buildings erected was the brewhouse. The vast majority of colonizing expeditions carried brewing equipment along, putting the copper kettles and cooperage to work in the community brewhouse within weeks of arrival. When farmsteads began to thread their ways into the countryside, the homesteaders took their brewing utensils along with them.

Even though the historical record shows commercial brewing enterprises springing up within a few years of settlement in virtually each colony, infrastructure was quite primitive. Travel was adventurous at best, and at certain times of the year impossible. The remote farmsteader - i.e., outside of a half-day's walk from a population center - was forced to be self-sufficient in order to survive. Until the Revolution, barley malt was generally unavailable in the Colonies and was imported from Britain; though some inroads were made into domestic production during the mid-18th century, production of non-staple crops could never hope to keep up with demand. Hops, however, were found growing wild by the earliest settlers, and were used for decades before commercial hops farms were established.

Understandably, most drinking also occurred in the home. Before too many years had passed, however, taverns began to spring up all over the American countryside. Taverns became a central part of Colonial American life - as a social center, trading post, and governmental representation. As a rule, the largest room in the tavern would periodically be given over to the practice of the King's Justice; cases would be heard by a traveling magistrate, and judgment provided. In the tavern's common room, business would be conducted, usually bartering over goods due to a lack of currency. Some fabulous examples of taverns from this period survive - the Bachmann Publick House, on the corner of Second and Northampton Streets in Easton, PA, was built in 1753 to serve the settlers of Thomas Penn's Northampton County, and can be seen today (albeit in renovated form). Many of these taverns became commercial breweries, brewing for their own trade as well as some excess for sale to settlers in the surrounding areas. Still, on the frontier homebrew reigned supreme.

Lack of traditional ingredients did not deter the settlers from brewing and fermenting their favorite beverage. Should barley malt be in short supply, other sources of fermentable sugar were pressed into service - sometimes literally. Setting aside hard cider - which ran a close second fiddle to beer during the entire colonial period - beer was made from a variety of sugar sources. Molasses was most often used as a substitute; the sugar trade in the West Indies passed through the major ports of Philadelphia, Boston and New York. Also found in the historical record are pumpkin, Indian corn and corn stalks. Beer made from these sources of sugar is indifferent at best; the author's experiment with molasses, made from a recipe recorded by a young George Washington while on campaign in what is now Pittsburgh, was utterly foul, even after a couple of years in the bottle.[2]

Usually, however, sufficient malt could be either made locally or bartered from a source, and laid by against upcoming brews. Brewing was the responsibility of the mistress of the house, who usually brewed the family's ale (and baked the bread - both use yeast, after all) in an outbuilding separate from the main house. William Penn's home in America, Pennsbury Manor, had an elaborate bake and brew house built, separate from both main house and kitchen. This, however, was not completed until the 1690s. Before that, Penn reported from Philadelphia, "Our DRINK has been Beer and Punch, made of Rum and Water: Our Beer was mostly made of Molasses, which well boyld, with Sassafras or Pine infused into it, makes very tolerable drink; but now they make Mault, and Mault Drink begins to be common, especially at the Ordinaries and the Houses of the more substantial People. In our great Town there is an able Man, that has set up a large Brew House, in order to furnish the People with good Drink, both there and up and down the River."

Malting was also generally done in the home. Thomas Jefferson in a letter offers to have his Monticello maltster instruct the correspondent's man how to do it properly, and gives some indication of the equipment needed. Manuals and 'handy-books' for new settlers and established housewives gave instruction and equipment-building plans for both brewing and malting.

Thus was the 'ale-wife' supreme, just as she had been for a thousand years. Even long after the Constitution was adopted, wives brewed for their households all along the frontier, until the advent of intercontinental rail travel and refrigeration made commercial beer widely available and brewers like Mssrs. Busch and Miller wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice.

1. The evidence indicates that the Pilgrims were bound for the more hospitable climes of Virginia. 2. "To Make Small Beer - Take a large Siffer [Sifter] full of Bran Hops to your Taste. -- Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a cooler put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Melasses into the cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask -- leave the bung open till it is almost don[e] Working -- Bottle it that day Week it was Brewed." I redacted this for a 2 gallon batch (thankfully; dumping 5 gallons would have made me cry.)

  • 1920s Prohibition
  • 1978 Congress passed a bill repealing Federal restrictions on the home Brewing of small amounts of beer. Jimmy Carter signed the bill into law in February 1979
  • 1978 Charlie Papazian founded the Association of Brewers.
  • 1984 Charlie Papazian published The Complete Joy of Homebrewing which is now in its 3rd edition.

[edit] Today's Beer

The beer that we know today and the process that we use were really matured from the period of 1750 onwards. With the birth of the Industrial Revolution, things like the thermometer and hydrometer, along with changes in the malting industry, allowed for more efficient and repeatable brewing methods. The hydrometer probably did more to form modern brewing methods and styles than any other piece of equipment. Previously, beer was generally brewed from one malt: light, brown, dark, etc. But with the hydrometer breweries found that the paler the malt, the more efficient it was. So the base malt was switched to a pale barley malt and smaller amounts of "specialty" malts were included for their various unique characteristics, much the same as it still done today.

[edit] External Links


This category has the following 73 subcategories, out of 73 total.

Pages in category "Beer"

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